Maitreya Kali “Inca”

Satya Sai Maitreya Kali

Despite reading the occasional negative review, I think Inca by Maitreya Kali is a good one. Maitreya Kali is actually Craig Smith who was one of the key members of California folk-rock band the Penny Arkade. Theirs was a sound influenced by mystical psychedelia but also grounded in American roots and C&W.

Chris Ducey along with Craig Smith were the creative architects of this hardluck outfit and many of their songs employed guitar distortion, plenty of Californian harmonies and jangly, amplified country folk twang. Some of the Penny Arkade tracks appeared on Inca when it was released in 1972. Apache, Smith’s debut, had appeared earlier that year and also featured a handful of Penny Arkade leftovers from 1966-1968. Both albums feature Craig Smith solo tracks and while both records are solid, Inca may have a slight edge in terms of quality.

In his earlier years, Craig Smith had written songs for the Monkees, Andy Williams and Glen Campbell. With these songwriting royalties Smith traveled the world and financed the release of the Apache and Inca albums. Solo tracks such as Sam Pan Boat are very sensitive and fragile acid folk with pretty vocals and a beautiful burned out ambience. The Penny Arkade tracks have a sound that has often been compared to a garage version of Buffalo Springfield. Their most popular song, included on this album was the 12 and a half minute Knot the Freeze. This psychedelic folk-rock opus is a must for 60’s fans and strongly resembles Buffalo Springfield’s Broken Arrow in it’s suite-like structure. Knot the Freeze reportedly received some local airplay when Inca was released but it is by no means the only highlight on this private release. There are other good Arkade tracks like the tuneful garage folk-rocker Lights of Dawn and the confused acid folk philosophy of Thesis. Country Girl was one of their unqualified triumphs as a band, a prehistoric shimmering country rock number with carefree lyrics and an honesty that is rare in much music.

Not much is known about Craig Smith’s whereabouts today, although it’s been said that after these lps were released he suffered a mental breakdown possibly due to drug intake. Both albums are really good listening and well worth a spin for fans of psychedelia and roots music. Sundazed recently released all of the Penny Arkade’s recordings, including 16 unreleased tracks from the vaults. This disc is also highly recommended to fans of folk-rock, psychedelia or anyone wanting to delve a little deeper into the world of 60’s underground rock.

Craig Smith solo:

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“Sam Pan Boat”

The Penny Arkade:

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“Country Girl”

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  • Brendan

    What a sleeve! Thanx go to Lord and Lady Lennon, Neil Young, Paul Butterfield right on the cover! And I guess Maitreya didn’t think it was quite finished until doodled upon. Nor can I figure out why it’s titled Satya Sai Maitreya Kali but everybody refers to it only as Maitreya Kali.

  • Susan Hannon

    Craig Smith came here yesterday to apply for an apartment – He was nice and reasonable but is very obviously living on the street – His clothes are filthy and he smells really bad. One of the tenants said he’s been seeing him wandering this neighbor hood for at least two years . He needs help – He said he used to live on Multiview years ago. I felt so sorry for him. I had no clue as to he was and looked him up after he told me he was a songwriter. We are in Studio City Ca, Hopefully someone who cares for him will help him out.
    So, yes he really dissapeared.

  • mary epworth

    Susan, please tell Craig that lots of people really enjoy his work. He’s a great songwriter, much underrated.

  • alex c

    hi susan, i wonder if you know about craig smith’s whereabouts…do you know if he finally managed to live in Studio City?

  • Nipuna Dharma

    I knew Craig (Maitreya) back in the early 70’s, and even played drums in a band he got together back then. He picked me up hitch-hiking on my way from the Bodhi Tree Bookstore to UCLA, which was how we met. He had recently changed his name to Maitreya, and believed himself to be the next Buddha. I don’t think drugs were responsible for his delusional state – more likely it was due to injuries (including a concussion) he had suffered when he was mugged while traveling through Afganistan. Whatever, he is indeed a great song wrighter! Anybody know where he is now?

  • Susan Hannon

    Craig is living on the street here in Studio City CA . He is not mentally well, judging by his outer appearance (he smells really really bad) he is just getting by . I wish someone would take him in, but that is a big obligation. I wish him the best and hope he is some how saved.

  • alex c

    rafael, do you know if that band did any recordings?

  • Mark Tunnell

    A few months back I contacted two of Craig’s former bandmates (well, technically I told one who told another) to pass on informtaion about where we think he is.

    I hope someone tracks him down and helps him out. If I wasn’t in Colorado I would.


  • Scott Shackelford


    Have you seen Craig lately…I live near Studio City and wonder if I’ve ever seen him around.

  • Hi Scott, I’m afraid I have no connection here other than just being a fan of his beautiful music. Just felt sad to think how much help that kind of money might be. Really think someone needs to do an official reissue with all profits going to Craig.

  • Mike M.

    Any updates on Mr. Smith? I’ve just started digging into his music and his story (by way of rediscovering my Monkees albums since Mr. Jones’s passing).
    The more answers I get, the more questions I have…

    I’m wondering if the royalties from his more well-known songs are indeed reaching him, or if he even still owns the rights.

    How fantastic would it be to have a concert to honor his music at, say, The Troubador?

  • Mark Tunnell

    He was definitely collecting royalties from certain musicians as recently as the late 1990s. Apparently he made quite an impression on some of Glen Campbell’s people, for example. :)

  • Mike M.

    Has anyone had any luck finding Craig in Studio City since 2010?

  • Susan Hannon

    I haven’t seen him in quite some time – if he’s still in Studio City he could be at any number of homeless camps near the river banks – he may be at a shelter as well – it’s a mystery and I wish him the best.

  • Mike M.

    Ms. Hannon and Mr. Tunnell – if you have a moment, could you send me an e-mail? I’m at:
    medina115 (at) hotmail dot com. Thank you!

  • Mark Tunnell

    OK just did :)

  • Lisa U.

    I too met him in 1972, I think in Santa Monica. He gave me a ride back to my dorm at UCLA and after that would randomly show up at odd hours. My roommate was not too thrilled by his scary appearance even then. I knew he was the “real thing” as he took me to his record company to pick up something and then we “dropped by” to visit Brian Wilson at his house. “Mrs. Wilson” came home with the kids while we were there and I could tell she was not happy to see Matreya in her living room (not to mention me). Brian was friendly enough. Matreya gave me one of his albums which I loved but somehow misplaced. He talked about the Manson crowd too and at some point I had to insist he not show up anymore as he was scaring the lovely co-eds on my floor! I have read about him on-line and have also wondered if he is still out there on the streets somewhere. So sad.

  • Mike M.

    Lisa U. – if you have a moment, could you please write me at medina115 (at) hotmail (dot) com? Thanks much!

  • KoolAid

    Damn. I didn’t know he’s living on the streets. He ended up just like the late Skip Spence. Another f**ed up genious. I bought his “Apache/Inca” album, and I think it’s one of the best early 70’s psychedelic-folk albums out there, along with Skip Spence’s “Oar”, Syd Barrett’s “The Madcap Laughs” and Twink’s “Think Pink”. So sad to know he bacame just another lost soul, and his music so underrated.

  • Nipuna Dharma

    I just heard that Maitreya passed away on March 16, 2012, of pneumonia.

  • Mike M.

    Rest in peace, Craig.

  • Barb

    I never knew it was Craig Smith who wrote “Salesman” Thank you for the music.

  • Mark Tunnell

    He’s in a much better place now. RIP

  • Brendan

    Thank you for the music, Maitreya.

  • Susan Hannon

    So Sorry to hear about Craig – he’s off to his new adventure –

  • peter

    does anyone knows if craig actually know jimmy hendrix in person?

  • Mark Tunnell

    I’ve never heard that but it’s highly unlikely that they knew one another.

  • Mike M

    Some of you here already know this, but there has been a tremendous article written on Maitreya/Craig that’s since been published by Mike Stax of Ugly Things Magazine (which centers on all music of the ’60s).
    It’s really an incredible story.

    And speaking of, Mary Epworth (see above comments) has recently released a beautiful version of ‘Ice And Snow’.

  • Susan Hannon — could you email me at uglythingsmag [at]
    I am writing a book about Craig Smith — just finishing it in fact — and would like to talk to you about your encounter with him in 2009. Thank you!

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